All You Need to Know About Ziggurat

Ziggurat which means to build on a raised land, is an ancient Mesopotamia temple tower, which has a form of terraced pyramid with continuous receding stories. Ziggurats are a form of temple that is in common to the Assyrians, Babylonians and the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia. Ziggurat has been in existence since the third millennium BCE.

Ziggurat is built in receding steps on a rectangular, square or oval platform and it takes the shape of a pyramid. The major component of ziggurat is the sun baked bricks and the facings of a fired brick is used on the outside of ziggurat. The facing of ziggurat is most times glazed with different shades of colours and they have astrological significance.

The numbers of ziggurat stories can be either two through to seven and it is topped with either a temple or a shrine. The summit can be assessed by a spiral ramp that runs from the base to the top or with a series of ramp on the side of the ziggurat. The most renowned examples of ziggurat are the Khorsabad in Mesopotamia and the great Ziggurat of Ur.

There are some religious beliefs associated with the Ziggurats in Mesopotamia, this temple is not allowed for public ceremonies or worship, they were taken as place where the gods dwell. The gods that dwell in this temple were believed to be close to mankind and all the cities has there own god. The only set of people that are allowed into the ziggurat are the priests whose responsibility is to care and attend to the needs of the gods, and this now made the priests very powerful among the people of Sumerians. Iran has four ziggurat with the most recent discovery in Sialk, in the central part of Iran, this four ziggurat are among the thirty two that are close to Mesopotamia and Iraq has the majority of the remaining number.

Sunrise at the Ur Ziggurat, Iraq.
Sunrise at the Ur Ziggurat, Iraq.

Choqa Zanbil which is located in the western part of Iran is among the best preserved ziggurat and has survived the catastrophic eight years of war between Iraq and Iran of the 80’s which destroyed most of the archeological edifice in both countries. The ranges of the designs of ziggurat are from a simple bases on which a temple is set, to the marvels of construction and mathematics which spreads numerous terraced steps which are topped with a temple.

The white temple in Uruk of the ancient Sumer is an example of a type of ziggurat, the white temple is set on the base of ziggurat, reasons being that they want the temple to be closer to the heavens, and a provision to access the top was made in form of steps. Marduk or Etemenanki ziggurat is a good example of a massive and extensive ziggurat located in the ancient Babylon.

There are several examples of the beliefs that surrounds the ziggurat in ancient history some of which are observed in the 7 levels of Chakra system of the Indians and the dualism of Yin Yang of the Chinese.

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